Philip Seymour Hoffman Movies: Which Was His Finest Role?

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When considering Philip Seymour Hoffman’s movies of the past 25 years, it’s difficult to envisage an actor working anywhere else on the planet who inhabits a character as well as the man from Fairport, New York did. As news of Hoffman’s untimely death – from a reported drug overdose – filtered through on Sunday, fans, journalists and friends dubbed the late great Hoffman the best character actor of his generation. The 46-year-old was rivalled only by Daniel Day-Lewis and perhaps Sean Penn in terms of the greatest actors currently working in the business, though unlike his multi-Oscar winning contemporaries, Hoffman was unconcerned with taking only lead roles and effectively wrote the book on the art of the perfect supporting performance.

Philip Seymour Hoffman movies before the devil knows your dead

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), director: Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet's final feature film before his death in 2011 will remain one of the French director's finest and most cerebral efforts. Hoffman starred as Andy Hanson, a drug addicted finance executive who is facing a company wide audit that will reveal his embezzling from his employer. Believing that he cannot be extradited if he makes it to Brazil, Andy enlists his brother Hank (Hawke) to raise funds by robbing their parent's jewellery store. Meanwhile, Hank continues his long-standing affair with Andy's wife, Gina. Played by Marisa Tomei. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman movies Mary and Max

Mary & Max (2009), director: Adam Elliot

Philip Seymour Hoffman's movies were rarely as touching as Adam Elliot's tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals, Mary & Max. He voiced the forty-four-year-old obese man living in New York, who kept in regular contact with a lonely eight-year-old girl (Toni Collette) living in the suburbs of Melbourne.

This clay-animated masterpiece dealt with several issues that have arguably become more pertinent since Hoffman's untimely death, most notably, loneliness, depression, anxiety and the obscurity of life. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman movies Charlie Wilson's War
Charlie Wilson's War (2007), director: Mike Nichols

Working from Aaron Sorkin's script, Hoffman turned in one of his most accomplished performances in Mike Nichols's biographical-drama film about the true story of congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) who partnered with a CIA operative to launch a program to support the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. 

Hoffman's turn as the maverick CIA agent Gust Avrakotos was, arguably, crucial to this movie working and the Academy duly nominated him for best supporting actor in 2008. The movie received no other Oscar nods.

Philip Seymour Hoffman movies Moneyball

Moneyball (2011), director: Bennett Miller

Again working from a Sorkin script, Philip Seymour Hoffman turned in a truly remarkable performance as Oakland Atheltics manager Art Howe in Bennett Miller's adaptation of Michael Lewis's classic 2003 book. With Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) keen to implement his statistical, analytical selection process, tensions rise between himself and Hoffman's Howe and the latter chooses traditional team selection despite his player's unsuitability. Howe was perhaps portrayed unfairly, but the script intended him to come across as an unresonable character Hoffman made his character genuinley unlikeable, providing the perfect platform for one of Pitt's finest perfomances in years. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman movies A Late Quartet

A Late Quartet (2012), director: Yaron Zilberman

If any of Philip Seymour Hoffman's movies are to remain relatively undiscovered, it will be Yaron Zilberman's A Late Quartet. Made on a shoestring budget, this beautifully acted movie follows a renowned New York Fugue String quartet approaching its 25th anniversary. A debilitating illness to its cellist (Christopher Walken) forces the members to re-evaluate their relationships and when Hoffman's second violinist character Robert voices his desire to alternate the role of first violinist, tensions begin to run high. A hugely impressive cast on paper - Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener, Imogen Poots - delivers what was one of the cinematic highlights of 2012.

Next page: Philip Seymour Hoffman movies list: 1-5.

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